As a young kid in the south London, we listened to Duke Ellington, Django Reinhardt, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, Beethoven, Dvorak, Stravinsky, American Forces Network Jazz hour, Amalia Rodrigues, Laurindo Almeida - all this went in………………………………
Started in 1955, learning clarinet after hearing and memorising chunks of Benny Goodman. Improvisation was real freedom for me. Went to live in Belfast - learnt some classical clarinet with a Belfast Symphony Orchestra player John Johnston. Sat in with The White Eagles at Queen’s University, where I studied Physics. Got a tenor sax and met Malcolm Gooding (piano), Billy McAlpine (string bass) and Jackie McGuire (drums). We formed a modern jazz quartet in Belfast in 1963. Went to Fleadh at Thurles in 65 and heard real Irish Music for the first time - no strong reaction then, but intrigued….
Returned to London in 1966 - played modern and free Jazz, some R+B and caribbean music with Russ Henderson in the Coleherne, Earl’s Court. Graham Bond showed up on alto and Stokely Carmichael, who was deported 3 days later! In 1975 bought Chieftains 2 album, which seemed to have some of the modal feel of Coltrane’s work, which I greatly admired. I’d had enough of being drowned out by amplified music - I bought a penny whistle for £2 and started learning irish tunes with Hughie Flint of John Mayall’s Blues Breakers. Formed Chanter in London with local musicians and played for several years around London and Germany. Formed Clann na Mara in 1998 after supporting Alan Stivell in Brittany, with Barry Wickens on fiddle and J Eoin on guitar/vocals. Currently playing in the south of France and Lubeck, Germany.
Instruments: whistles, long whistle and soprano sax.